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System matters and free kriegsspiel

pemerton

Legend
As I mentioned upthread, trust might not be the most accurate word for what they are trying to describe. To me what they are trying to describe is what the table references when there is uncertainty. So if you are playing chess, there are clear legal and illegal moves. If you are learning how to play, you can reference the rules and see a pawn can only move forward, or diagonally to replace an opponent's piece. So in that sense you have "trust" in the rules: as long as we follow the rules the game will be fair. "Trust" is not about your chess opponent not cheating, though incidentally it's easier to verify whether they are or are not. Free Kriegspiel wargames, to my understanding, replaced the rulebook with a referee. So now instead of "trusting" the rules to adjudicate your position and actions, you "trust" the referee.
But the only RPG I can think of which sits on the chess side of your example is 3E D&D and its cousins, or very vanilla combat encounters in a rules-heavy RPG like HERO, 4e D&D, RM, RQ, etc.

Consider AW. Your PC goes aggro and gets a total result of 5. Now the GM can make as hard and direct a move as they like. What should they actually say? I've played with plenty of GMs who I wouldn't trust to GM AW, not because they're cheaty types without integrity but just because they don't have a good imagination for dramatic fiction.

So for Kriegsspiel referees, the foundation for trust is established. They are trustworthy because they are experts in the area, they are not invested in seeing a particular side win, and they are ruling about a scenario that has been established with minimal input/design from them.

What would be the corresponding factors that would serve as a foundation of trust for a FKR GM?
I did offer some conjectures about this in the OP.

In S'mon's response to the helicopter problem we got say 'yes' or roll the dice as a way of plugging gaps in expertise.
 

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I still think that trust is a red herring. How is Apocalypse World going to work, if the GM can't be trusted to do their job? Or 4e D&D, in a skill challenge or as soon as a player improvises an action? Or any RPG that requires adjudication of the fiction.

This is why I keep coming back to 3E D&D, and "cubes-to-cubes" adjudication with only leftward-facing arrows (ie reading fiction of objective rules-driven processes, like dice rolls) but no rightward-facing ones.
It's not. A low trust play is quite doable in narrative-heavy games - especially, as is the case with AW, where the rules specify exactly what the GM's allowed to do. AW as written presumes players understand the GM's role. THey don't need high trust, as they can say, "Hey, not cool!" when the GM crosses the line.
FKRing an AWE/PBTA game pushes it to needing high trust.

I used to have high trust in players. somewhere around 200 of them past my table, and lost that inherent trust.
 

I think the idea of this being a "high trust game type" is a bit misleading. Because every game proceeds with the expectation that the participants can be trusted, or at least every game should. You generally don't expect people to cheat or to subvert the rules.
After over 200 players playing at my table, I do expect about 1 in ten players to cheat if they think they can get away with it; usually lying about dice rolls.
I expect another 1 in ten to be unable to function reliably in a rules context.
And about 1 in ten who will not abide genre restrictions.
About 1 in 20 will ignore the comfort of others at the table.
So, I generally don't trust players at start. If they turn out to not be one of those roughly 20 of 100... (there are strong overlaps), sure... they earn that trust. It's not been automatic in 20+ years for me. About 80% hit that.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
It sounds a lot to me like 'high trust' is being used as a synonym for not having meaningful expectations of what play should look like or never setting boundaries as a player. From my perspective trust is about the expectation that you will do something. I trust you to watch my dog or balance my checkbook. There is no general trust beyond the general sense of expecting ethical conduct, but that's just implied expectations based on the society we live in.

Apocalypse World requires a tremendous degree of trust in the sense it leaves a lot in the GM's hands. Not just to stay within the lines, but also to perform your responsibilities thoughtfully. There's a tremendous degree of latitude the game affords the GM. Like the game says make as hard a move as you like, but you should not be making the hardest moves that make sense all the time. The game tells you to build PC-NPC-PC triangles, but you need to do so carefully.

That's like saying B/X does not require a high degree of trust because it expects the referee to fairly lay out a dungeon.

In both games as presented there is a tremendous amount of GM judgement required. Like pretty much every second of play involves judgement calls.
 
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I used to have high trust in players. somewhere around 200 of them past my table, and lost that inherent trust.

My own take on this--and it applies even more to GMs than players simply because I'm mostly involved in trad games where GMs have a lot more power, but it applies to both--is I have fairly high trust in the majority of GM and players intentions. Some selfish motivations slip in, but few people are actively planning things to make things worse for others, and those people show their true colors pretty quickly usually. (Not that those selfish motivations can't cause problems with people who can't step back and look at it from others POV and understand that's partly their responsibility too, but its at least easier to address).

But people's judgment? Nothing in my experience has taught me that's to be trusted on a consistent basis in, well, anybody.
 

After over 200 players playing at my table, I do expect about 1 in ten players to cheat if they think they can get away with it; usually lying about dice rolls.
I expect another 1 in ten to be unable to function reliably in a rules context.
And about 1 in ten who will not abide genre restrictions.
About 1 in 20 will ignore the comfort of others at the table.
So, I generally don't trust players at start. If they turn out to not be one of those roughly 20 of 100... (there are strong overlaps), sure... they earn that trust. It's not been automatic in 20+ years for me. About 80% hit that.

Well we’re all going to be influenced by our experiences, so I can’t say I blame you. Of you have a new player, do you generally give them the benefit of the doubt until they display some behavior you think is problematic?

That’s generally my approach with either a player or a GM. I expect everyone is going to play fairly and with respect toward each other until I see evidence otherwise.

The trust I’m more concerned about in a practical way is more along the lines of judgment, as @Campbell and @Thomas Shey have just mentioned.
 


pemerton

Legend
@Campbell has explained why I think AW requires trust, in the sense that it put a heavy burden on the GM which I would not expect a number of GMs I've played with to be able to discharge.

Burning Wheel is very similar.

A GM adjudicating a typical AD&D 2nd ed module, where I have no expectations except to move from encounter to encounter and do my bit in the fights and occasionally joining dots, is a completely different thing. That said, I once ran a many-player tournament-style club game, on a modified AD&D chassis, with very clearly defined parameters for each encounter area, and one of my subordinate GMs managed to violate everyone's trust in his GMing of his section - no players who made their way into that part of the set-up had a chance of making it through to a win . . .
 

Well we’re all going to be influenced by our experiences, so I can’t say I blame you. Of you have a new player, do you generally give them the benefit of the doubt until they display some behavior you think is problematic?

That’s generally my approach with either a player or a GM. I expect everyone is going to play fairly and with respect toward each other until I see evidence otherwise.
Very limited benefit of the doubt.
  • New players' characters are audited. And not just at start.
  • I keep an eye on dice rolls for players, and I roll resolutions in the open as well. If a player complains about another's rolls, I require rolls to be checked by me - no touch until I read. I've had to impose that only once in the last few years... but due to the player, it was every roll he made until his death. (He dropped of cancer early this year.) I just asked other players to read his dice for his "bad vision" (which was bad).
  • I require players to tell me what triggered use of the X-card - not in front of the others... because I've seen it abused.
    • I had a player abuse the x-card before. He used it to cancel scenes where his character was at risk.
    • I've had another player who used the fade to black to prevent her ex-so from succeeding at social actions by objection at the start of his announcing a social action.
  • I do presume lack of malice by players, but keep an eye out for several issues.
    • I do keep an eye out for players dictating others' actions.
    • I do keep an eye out for players intentionally preventing others from play.
    • I occasionally have to relocate players to prevent excess table talk
 


S'mon

Legend
After over 200 players playing at my table, I do expect about 1 in ten players to cheat if they think they can get away with it; usually lying about dice rolls.
I expect another 1 in ten to be unable to function reliably in a rules context.
And about 1 in ten who will not abide genre restrictions.
About 1 in 20 will ignore the comfort of others at the table.
So, I generally don't trust players at start. If they turn out to not be one of those roughly 20 of 100... (there are strong overlaps), sure... they earn that trust. It's not been automatic in 20+ years for me. About 80% hit that.

Yes. It does not seem wildly implausible to suggest that 80% of players are basically trustworthy. IME for GMs it might be higher, but again not implausible to suggest that around 20% of the time a GM will do something at least one player feels is violating the perceived social contract. The GM I played Savage Worlds with, he applied the rules system fairly*, but he tended to ignore my female PC, which I started to suspect was because he didn't much like a male player playing a female PC. Or the 4e GM who fudged wildly to keep the PCs alive in his ridiculously OTT encounters, also lost some trust.

If there are 4-5 players at the table and 1 GM, it's far more likely that at least 1 player is not trustworthy. So it can be rational to - by default - not fully trusting players, while trusting the GM until proven otherwise. And since the game likely needs player trust in the GM to function, it's also necessary to play at all.

Edit: I pretty much trust all my current players, but they're a curated bunch. I stopped playing with the ones I didn't trust! When you run a lot of public open-access games, I think you do get a roughly 80-20 ratio. Although it seems to vary a bit by rules system. When I switched from 3e to 4e, there suddenly seemed to be far less player bad behaviour. 5e seems good for engendering good behaviour too. Something about 3e (& PF) seems to bring out the worst in some people. :/ I had a bit of a bad experience running a BECMI/Classic campaign too, but that was just one couple so not a meaningful data point.

*Actually, I recall him ignoring my female diplomancer PC's attempt to dissuade the biker gang from capturing the PCs, while letting the rather munchkiny male fighter PC's attempt succeed. I had built the PC for exactly this kind of situation, even knowing it likely wouldn't come up much in a zombie apocalypse game, so I was pretty p*ssed off.
 
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Numidius

Adventurer
I think the language of need, of what is essential is not really all that useful in terms of roleplaying game design. It implies there is only one right answer, instead of many depending on what your group is looking for. I think it's a lot more useful to consider what the game is contributing based on the needs of the specific group.
(...)
Each game provides something different, focuses on different salient details about the fiction. I would gladly play any with the right group. I think there are a lot of cases where specificity is helpful, especially games that are essentially defining a genre of play unto themselves. Games where the source material is the game. Games like Legend of the 5 Rings, Exalted, Vampire - The Masquerade, and Pathfinder Second Edition are specific because they are defining a genre for us all to experience. That has real value.
(...)
In both games as presented there is a tremendous amount of GM judgement required. Like pretty much every second of play involves judgement calls.

This, I agree with, even if I'd look at it from an FKR perspective.
I could use your exact words to pitch an FKR game to people.
I probably will ;)
 



Yes. It does not seem wildly implausible to suggest that 80% of players are basically trustworthy. IME for GMs it might be higher,

Is there a particular reason to assume this? It seems based in some unstated prior assumption.

but again not implausible to suggest that around 20% of the time a GM will do something at least one player feels is violating the perceived social contract. The GM I played Savage Worlds with, he applied the rules system fairly*, but he tended to ignore my female PC, which I started to suspect was because he didn't much like a male player playing a female PC. Or the 4e GM who fudged wildly to keep the PCs alive in his ridiculously OTT encounters, also lost some trust.

If there are 4-5 players at the table and 1 GM, it's far more likely that at least 1 player is not trustworthy. So it can be rational to - by default - not fully trusting players, while trusting the GM until proven otherwise. And since the game likely needs player trust in the GM to function, it's also necessary to play at all.

Though note my distinction. I wouldn't play with a GM who's motives I questioned, but I've done so with ones who's judgment I didn't completely trust on a consistent basis (in fact, I take that as pretty much a given).
 


That the 80-20 rule applies? Only that it seems to fit my experience with open games, which is extensive.

I suspect that's because you haven't been exposed to environments where there's a sharply limited amount of GMs, and as such, the ones present can get away with things that wouldn't fly where its easier to shop for a better GM.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I suspect that's because you haven't been exposed to environments where there's a sharply limited amount of GMs, and as such, the ones present can get away with things that wouldn't fly where its easier to shop for a better GM.
Or run in an environment where it's easier to shop for better players.
 

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